23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

23 RD Sunday Scriptural Reflections Sept. 6, 2020

On January 22, 1999, a tragedy or crime took place in India. There was a Christian Missionary from
Australia by the name of Graham Steins. He came to India in 1965 and he and his wife were involved
with helping the rural people with health, education, and social development. They had a center for
helping the poor lepers also. But the evangelical missionaries were hated by certain Hindu
fundamentalists and they wanted to destroy the missionaries and their service.
In 1999 the Hindu fundamentalists attacked the missionary Graham Steins and they burned alive
Graham Steins and his two sons, Phillip age 12, and Tim age 9. His wife Gladys and their daughter had to
face extreme loss and worst pains. When the media people and journalists approached Gladys Steins,
she said “I am totally broken and hurt, but the love of my Lord Jesus keeps me going”. Then she said, “ I
forgive those culprits who took away the lives of my beloved husband and my most loving sons, I wish
and pray that the love of my savior and the Lord Jesus touch the hearts of those men”.
The main theme of the readings is concerned with
a) Need for unconditional or unlimited forgiveness as an essential part of Christian love.
b) Need for Christian corrections
c) Need for personal family and community prayer
Unconditional Forgiveness and Christian way of corrections are the short falls of our fellow faithful are
the two sides of the same coin of Christian Love. We forgive a person because of our love for Christ our
Lord in that person. Similarly, we correct a person who is erring because of our loving concern for that
person.
In the first reading from the Book of Ezekiel, we see that Ezekiel will be held responsible and
accountable before God for the death of the wicked fellow human beings, if he (Ezekiel) failed as a
prophet to correct his people similarly a true Christian can never be indifferent to the issue of abortion
or can never support anyone who tries to destroy the dignity of any human life.
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, states that the only motivation behind all disciplinary actions must
be love, based on the love of Christ our Lord.
In the Gospel passage from Matthew we see Jesus setting the modus operandi of correcting a person
who does wrong.
a) Direct Confrontation- Confront the person who wrongs you directly, brooding about the wrong
that a person does to you is the worst thing, it can poison our whole mind and body and soul.
Furthermore, our Lord wants us not to gossip, since gossiping is not a Christian attitude. Hence,
we must face/confront the person and by talking to him in a loving manner make him
understand his mistakes and make him repent. If it works out, it is exceptionally good.
b) Negotiations- IF direct confrontation fails, we need negotiation with the help of two or three
reliable and honorable and dependable persons to solve the problem. It is a kind way of
interventions.

c) Adjudication- If the negotiation fails, the church or the whole community or the representative
body must settle the issue, with the support of prayer, fellowship and true Christian love and
prudence.
d) Excommunication- If the offender chooses to disregard the believing community’s judgement
the consequence is excommunication. Yet the Lord Jesus tells us that the offender should be
treated like a gentile or a tax collector. But it is important to note that our Lord Jesus had
always an incredibly open, kind and very sympathetic approach towards Gentiles and tax
collectors.
The Gospel passage reminds us of the presence of our Lord Jesus when ever we gather in his name.

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